Wicklow under-15s pip Leinster finalists Portarlington
Portalington U-15s 20 Wicklow U-15s 21
WICKLOW TRAVELLED to Portarlington to face a fancied side that is through to the final of the Leinster League. Wicklow, severely depleted by illness and injury came away with a win by the narrowest of margins after a pulsating game.
Wicklow - as is their wont this season - started somewhat meekly and let in a soft try within two minutes. Some good action followed with Wicklow spending time in the opposition 22, but unfortunately coming away without points. The Portarlington boys showed they were up for the game with a fine run up the centre. Weak tackling by Wicklow let the Laois men in again on 12 minutes. Like the first try, the conversion was missed but Port were already ahead by ten.
This finally provoked a response and some fine interplay between backs and forwards took Wicklow into the 22 again but this time Seán Duffy finished off a fine move under the posts. For good measure he converted his own try. Wicklow looked comfortable for the next period and on 19 minutes Stefan Nixon, having a fine first game at scrum-half, crossed over. Duffy again added the conversion.
The game now opened up and a number of attacking moves ended in turnovers by both sides until Portarlington crossed for a third, converted try. The action-filled first half ended 17-14.
Wicklow faced a stiff breeze and a slight incline in the second half and conceded a kickable penalty to make the score 20-14 only three minutes in. After this Portarlington were kept scoreless while both sides settled into a evenlymatched and competitive game. However, Wicklow never lost sight of the fact that only a single score separated the sides and in the 24th minute, Darragh Kavanagh playing in the centre made a terrific 20-metre carry straight up the middle of the pitch. The resulting ruck secured the ball and Philip Snell did the damage under the posts to help Duffy who duly added the extras. The job was not finished as Wicklow now had to defend the narrowest of leads. A series of scrums and line-outs were defended in their own 22 until the clock wound down. One final line-out was caught by Port but the catcher was unceremoniously dragged into touch by Cathal Conroy to end the game.
This victory comes at the right time for Wicklow who face Tullow next Sunday in the semi-final of the Boden Shield. The match is at 1.30 p.m. in Ashtown Lane and serves as the curtain-raiser for the First XV Towns Cup clash with Tullow at 3 p.m. Thrills expected in both games.
Wicklow U-15s: Seán Duffy, Dylan Phelan, Andrew Burke, Darragh Kavanagh, Ryan O'Toole, Stefan Nixon, Eoin Baker, Philip Snell, Robert Delahunt, Stephen Cruise, Tim Rahill, Cathal Conroy.
Elsewhere, Wicklow U-13s defeated Naas to earn a semi-final berth in the Leinster Youth Plate competition. Wicklow were in control for long periods only conceding the second try in the last play. Final score 31-12 to the Wicklow boys.
The U-16s were less lucky. Somewhat weakened by late withdrawals, they went down 14-27 to a strong Navan side at Ashtown Lane, ending their participation in this year's competition.